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❶However, those elements are not best handled by conflict resolution.

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They feel they are private and do not want to be exposed. People do not want to appear weak. If resolution involves giving in, avoiding, or compromise they may feel they appear as though they do not have confidence. People do not want the stress of confrontation. They feel it is better to avoid conflict rather than deal with the stress it will cause them in the workplace between co-workers.

Our society tends to reward alternative responses to conflict, rather than negotiation. People, who aggressively pursue their needs, competing rather than collaborating, are often satisfied by others who prefer to accommodate. Managers and leaders are often rewarded for their aggressive, controlling approaches to problems, rather than taking a more compassionate approach to issues that may seem less decisive to the public or their staffs.

Conflict resolution requires profound courage on the part of all parties: Collaborative approaches to conflict management require individuals to engage in the moment of dialogue in thoughtful and meaningful ways, so it is understandable if people tend to avoid such situations until the balance of wisdom tips in favor of negotiation.

People have certain perceptions in conflict when dealing with different situations. Conflict across cultures, whether across nations or across the diverse cultures within a country, exacerbates the routine difficulties of conflict management Fry and Bjorkqvist, There is no clear conclusion about whether men and women actually behave in different ways while conducting conflicts. Parties respond to conflicts on the basis of the knowledge they have about the issue at hand.

This includes situation-specific knowledge and general knowledge. The person sharing the message is considered to be the messenger. If the messenger is perceived to be a threat powerful, scary, unknown, etc.

For example, if a big scary-looking guy is yelling at people they may respond differently than if a diminutive, calm person would express the same message. People are more inclined to listen with respect to someone they view more credible than if the message comes from someone who lacks credibility and integrity. Some people have had significant life experiences that continue to influence their perceptions of current situations.

These experiences may have left them fearful, lacking trust, and reluctant to take risks. On the other hand, previous experiences may have left them confident, willing to take chances and experience the unknown.

Either way, one must acknowledge the role of previous experiences as elements of their perceptual filter in the current dilemma. These factors, along with others, work together to form the perceptual filters through which people experience conflict. As a result, their reactions to the threat and dilemma posed by conflict should be anticipated to include varying understandings of the situation.

These challenges contribute to our emerging sense, during conflict, that the situation is overwhelming and unsolvable. As such, they become critical sources of potential understanding, insight and possibility.

How do people respond to conflict? There are three responses to conflict emotional, cognitive and physical responses that are important windows into our experience during conflict, for they frequently tell people more about what is the true source of threat that is perceived; by understanding the thoughts, feelings and behavior to conflict, a better insight into the best potential solution to the situation.

Emotional feelings are the feelings we experience in conflict, ranging from anger and fear to despair and confusion. Emotional responses are often misunderstood, as people tend to believe that others feel the same as they do. Thus, differing emotional responses are confusing and, at times, threatening.

Cognitive thinking are our ideas and thoughts about a conflict, often present as inner voices or internal observers in the midst of a situation. Through sub-vocalization self-talk , people understand these cognitive responses. Physical behavior can play an important role in our ability to meet our needs in the conflict. They include heightened stress, bodily tension, increased perspiration, tunnel vision, shallow or accelerated breathing, nausea, and rapid heartbeat. These responses are similar to those we experience in high-anxiety situations, and they may be managed through stress management techniques.

Establishing a calmer environment in which emotions can be managed is more likely if the physical response is addressed effectively. Dealing with someone unwilling to negotiate can be difficult for the person who is trying to resolve the conflict. Another alternative is to focus on things we can do to influence conflicts in the future, rather than putting initial energy into understanding or solving problems we have had in the past.

By remaining relatively flexible about the agenda — taking on topics individuals care about, but not necessarily the most pressing issues — thus, creating an opportunity to reduce the fears associated with resistance.

While the conflict may not be able to be truly resolved, some key issues that exist will be managed and will help to prevent the issues from getting worse. Power is an important and complex issue facing anyone seeking a negotiated solution to a conflict.

Before negotiating clarify the true sources of power in the room: She or he may also have coercive power, supported by contracts or statute that compels employees to behave in certain ways and do certain tasks associated with the job.

Some may have a great deal of expertise power, accumulated from doing your job over a period of time. And either may possess referent power, through which others show respect for the manner in which the employee conducts themselves. Generally, referent power accrues to those who demonstrate a mature willingness to seek collaborative solutions. Impasse is the point within a dispute in which the parties are unable to perceive effective solutions.

People feel stuck, frustrated, angry, and disillusioned. Therefore, they might either dig their heels in deeper, anchoring themselves in extreme and rigid poitions, or they might decide to withdraw from negotiation. Either way, impasse represents a turning point in our efforts to negotiate a solution to the conflict. As such, rather than avoiding or dreading it, impasse should be viewed with calmness, patience, and respect.

Multi-party disputes are complex situations, and they require careful attention and persistence. In spite of using the same process expect everything to take a bit longer than if there where only two or three people. Patiently make sure that all points of view are heard, that issues are clarified for all to see, and that all members in the group accept the agreements being negotiated.

There are many different ideas of the steps for resolution, some claim five steps while others claim six or seven for the purpose of this paper Weeks eight step resolution style is identified.

Step one — Create an Effective Atmosphere. Creating the right atmosphere in which the conflict resolution process will take place is very important, yet most overlook its importance. The atmosphere is the frame around the canvas which will be painted the negotiations and building of better relationships Weeks, Step two — Clarify Perceptions.

Perceptions are lenses through which a person sees themselves, others, their relationships, and the situations they encounter. Perceptions have a great influence on behavior of people. Once people perceive something in certain way, even if the perception is wrong, in the mind it is that way, and often base behaviors on that perception Weeks, Step three — Focus on the Individual and Shared Needs.

This step builds on the previous step as needs as the conditions people perceive they cannot do without, those conditions critical to each persons wellbeing and relationships. However, step three focuses more on skills involved in the conflict partnership approach. There are several key points to keep in mind in this step. Step four — Build Shared Power. Power is a part of every relationship. However, the way people perceive and use power is seen frequently as a dirty word. Such as when people use power as means to control or to manipulate some else to get what they want.

Although, power is and of itself not corrupt, it is the way in which people use their power and whether they allow such power to corrupt.

Developing positive self power through a clear self-image means that we base our perceptions of ourselves not on what others expect of us or want us to be but what we believe to be our own needs, capabilities, priorities and goals Weeks, , p. All relationships and conflicts have a past, present and future.

Resolving conflicts requires dealing with all three. The conflict partnership process encourages the use of positive power to focus on the present-future to learn from the past. The past experiences people face set the landscape for present and future decision making and how relate to others Weeks, Step six — Generate Options. People have the ability to discover new possibilities in their relationships as well as conflict resolution. However, both are often impaired by the packaged truths and limited vision people hold onto in times of stress, insecurity, and conflict.

Generating options breaks through the predetermined restrictions brought into the conflict resolution process. Generating options imparts choices which specific steps to resolve conflicts and enhanced relationship can be agreed upon Weeks, Doables are explicit acts that stand a good possibility of success, meet some individual and shared need, and depend on positive power, usually shared power to be carried out.

Working on and accomplishing some doables can help the conflict partners see more clearly where they need to go. Many conflict partners have changed their preconceived definitions of both the conflict itself and the expected outcome due to the lessons learned and clarified perceptions through working with doables Weeks, Step eight — Make Mutual-Benefit Agreements.

Mutual-benefit agreements are the next step on the pathway to conflict resolution. Conflict resolution agreements must be realistic and effective enough to survive and the potential to develop further as challenges arise in the future. Mutual-benefit agreements replace the need or want for demands, see the others needs, shared goals, and establish a standard wherein power is identified as positive mutual action through which differences can be dealt with constructively Weeks, Conflict is an unavoidable aspect of everyday life whether it is with family, teachers, students, friends, or an organization.

The best approach to resolving conflict is interest reconciliation. It joins both parties of the dispute to find the best solution. In so doing, all parties win. Once both sides have presented their issues, how can it be resolved? This is a question many companies must deal with. An important source of advertising revenue might also be lost for a company, if there is a stigma of conflict attached to a company. There might not be a market for them to make money, if people have negative issues associated with a company and they have allowed these issues to blossom into media problems.

The possibilities for these large issues affecting a company are endless, which is why it is important to identify conflict right away and begin to work on a positive solution. Identifying issues can take on a wide variety of forms. Personal issues, work group related issues and even interorganizational issues are all able to be both beneficial and harmful to a company.

Properly identifying them in a clarifying format is the first step. Once theses issues are identified and one can see how they impede productivity, then they may be resolved in a way that is satisfactory for everyone involved.

Most people feel uncomfortable about conflict. Some people may think that all conflict is non-productive. However, research has shown that the certain forms of conflict can stimulate thinking and viewpoints and is often an important part of the teaming process. There are two main categories of conflict, constructive and destructive. Within each category, there are four identified issues that usually cause conflict: The higher the level of conflict, the more personal it becomes and non-productive it can be Leigh Thompson, et al.

Destructive conflict; also known as Affective or A-type conflict Leigh Thompson, et al. A-type conflict causes the person to lose focus of team goals and issues while closing the mind to new ideas and opinions.

Other effects of A-type conflict may cause witnesses to the negative behavior to limit their future views, ideas, and suggestions. Productive conflict; also known as Cognitive or C-type conflict Leigh Thompson, et al. If team members are educated on how to recognize and handle this type of conflict, C-type conflict can help stimulate creative thinking, causing people to think in different ways and arrive at different solutions while not being afraid to express those viewpoints and opinions to team members.

To get the best result often means looking at a situation from several different points of view. The key to C-type conflict is to keeping it impersonal. Nothing good can come from A-conflict and there is much to be gained from C-type conflict. How do you discourage one and encourage the other is the question. Key factors for promoting an atmosphere where C-type conflict prospers and A-type conflict is stunted, lies with the teams understanding of conflict to begin with.

Key elements of any charter must include the handling of conflicts combined with early education of team members as to how to handle conflict situations. Conflict education is an effective way to reducing A-type conflict while encouraging team members to express varying viewpoints and opinions. There are many misconceptions about conflict.

The first being, conflict is abnormal. Whenever there are multiple individuals striving to solve a problem or interpret a message, or define a goal, there is going to be a difference of opinions that will lead to conflict. When people understand that conflict exists and resolution is perused, then unity can replace conflict Leigh Thompson, et al. Another misconception is that conflicts and difference of opinions are the same.

A difference of opinion is usually temporary and usually a result of misunderstandings, which can be resolved by clarification. Conflict is more severe and not as easily defined or clarified Leigh Thompson, et al.

Many people think conflict is a result of differences in personality. Personality differences themselves do not cause conflict.

People with different types of personalities tend to bring different perspectives and points of views. If team members can recognize this as a positive attribute for the team, these differences can stimulate thinking and possible solutions.

It is when those differences are played out through behavior and emotion that conflict can occur Leigh Thompson, et al. Anger is often mistaken for conflict. Because conflict and emotions are involved in most conflict situations, people tent to associated all anger with conflict. However, Anger is just one type of emotion and people have a choice as which type of emotion they will use.

This is where team chartering and training can have their greatest positive impact Leigh Thompson, et al. Effective chartering can drastically reduce Affective conflict. The charter should always include operational ground rules that will dictate how the team will come to an agreement when conflict arises.

It should also include rules of engagement for presenting opposite points of views, disagreements, and constructive criticisms. The charter should also recognize that emotions will be impacted and as a result the should be time reserved, on a frequent and regular interval, where team members can vent there issues before their emotions get out of hand.

Team education is also an important tool for reducing Affective conflict. Conflict education should be given when a team is formed and at periodic intervals as needed. It is always a good idea for the team to get a refresher course on conflict management when given new assignments, new members are assigned, or when any team member feels that it is appropriate.

If this were the case, there would be no need for a solution process. A well-constructed, functioning team should try to avoid destructive conflict. If it should arise anyway, and there is a good chance it will, the conflict needs to be first identified and then dealt with before total destruction occurs. To identify a conflict you first determine whether it is an individual, intergroup, or interorganizational conflict.

The solution process to be utilized is determined from this. Also, one conflict may have started a second conflict. These would have to be handled at the same time but using different solutions.


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Identifying conflict in our lives and overcoming it can be highly beneficial to our happiness and well being. There are many different areas of conflict that we.

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